Best hiking boots 2018: dominate walking, hiking, yomping and peak-bagging

Turn off, strap in and get out there with T3’s all-time best hiking boots, chosen to keep your feet warm, dry and happy in all outdoor conditions

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Walking is brilliant – highly accessible, free, and a well-recognised stress reliever. It’s a way to take stock of our busy everyday lives, as well as experience the outdoors first hand and learn some great skills. 

There’s all kinds of ingenious gubbins that can be useful when out walking, but whether you’re a walking minimalist or maximalist, the most important is your footwear. The best hiking boots will keep you warm, comfortable and safe in the most demanding environments on the planet.

However, it’s a partnership that can easily go wrong. Ill-fitting boots will ruin your day and cripple you for weeks, while choosing the wrong pair for challenging conditions can have even worse results. A pair of faithful Hunters may suffice for walking the dog, but for any real outdoor action you need ‘proper hiking boots’.

That's why we've rounded up 10 of the best hiking boots of 2018 for our buyer's guide, taking in a range of styles, features and tech. You'll find boots here to get you through all seasons, including the coming winter. And because we check prices every day, if any of the boots shown below get reduced in the Christmas, Boxing Day or January sales, those prices will be shown below.

Best hiking boots 2018: woman hiking through a forest

Our expert pick:

  • Choosing the right hiking boots for all conditions is pretty much impossible due to the sheer range of options and niche technologies to choose from. That said, if you want one boot that does everything, the Scarpa Manta Pro is it.
  • The Manta is the gold standard for all-season hiking boots, providing plenty of ankle support, a waterproof membrane and a stiff B2 rated sole. The latter is essential for winter use, where crampons may well be needed, but also allows ‘edging’ in less serious snow (and mud) conditions. 
  • The downside of this stiffness and rugged utility is weight, as well as potential to cause blisters if not properly fitted, so take time to get this bit right. From sunny Alpine holidays in Cham to blustery Cairngorm winter weekends, the Manta cruises the lot.

Why do you need boots for hiking?

Hiking boots, as a term, is a broad church, but the main reasons you’ll need some for the rough stuff are their blend of protection, grip and stiffness. Standard street boots – Doctor Martens, for example – might offer some ankle support by lacing up high, but a lack of ankle padding will cut you to ribbons on a long trek. 

Most modern hiking boots also include a waterproof membrane, which will be useful when you head off the beaten track. In addition, hiking and mountain boots often incorporate a raised ‘rand’, a rubber buffer over the leather of the boot nearest the sole, which protects the boot from sharp stone cuts when walking across scree.  

Hiking boot soles will also be much stiffer than street shoes/boots to shrug off rough surfaces, incorporating aggressive tread for better grip on wet grass, moss or mud, and often cleverly-placed sticky rubber areas for extra grip on wet rock. 

That stiffer sole gets a grade from B0 to B3-B0 and below, making them fine for casual summer hikes, but too flexible for crampons. Meanwhile, B1-3 boots offer increasing levels of stiffness to accommodate increasingly technical rigid crampon use. 

This might sound excessive for the causal walker, but if you’re hillwalking in the UK winter, opting for a stiffer crampon-compatible walking boot is highly recommended, as conditions can change fast.  

Best hiking boots 2018: group of friends on a mountain hike

Outdoor tech has come a long way in recent years, with huge strides being made in the way hiking boots are designed and built. From tech geared to keep your toes warm in sub-zero conditions, to innovations that help you stay upright on the most treacherous and slippery trails. These are:

  • Vibram Megagrip (enhanced traction)
  • Gore-tex (improved waterproofing)
  • NestFit (bio-mapping for comfort)
  • Thermo Tech Application technology (better support)
  • CleanSport NXT (odour control)

How to buy the best hiking boots for you

The perfect hiking boot should be luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in its ruggedness, and offer as much grip as Spider-Man's socks. 

It’s essential to get the right rating for your boot – wearing B3 double-boots for summer trekking will be hell, as will attempting the likes of Indicator Wall in Converse. Overall, you’re looking for ankle support from a boot – which in the hills can be vital when a stone shifts underfoot – but also a comfortable fit. 

A snug (not tight) fit minimises heel lift, as well as assorted blisters at ‘hot spots’ like heels and toes. When seeking out winter boots (B1+) this is particularly important, as a loose fit will see your toes smash into the toe box when using crampons, and the stiffer sole will also exaggerate heel lift unless the heel pocket fits just right.  

The accepted wisdom is to try on boots in the afternoons, once your feet have expanded, and take a range of socks to try them with. Thin office socks are helpful to show up any obvious shape mismatches and pressure points, before moving on to your preferred walking sock. 

Do experiment with sock fit as well as boot fit, as even the most expensive socks are cheap compared to boots, and some of the more specialised socks can make a real difference to your hiking comfort. 

Best hiking boots 2018: man on a solo alpine hike

Construction-wise, old-school full leather boots are rare beasts these days, not only because of cost but also because they need months of ‘breaking in’ before extended use. Modern boots use a range of synthetic materials in addition to leather panels, so are much softer out of the box. 

Indeed, the latest thermo-fitted/NestFit models are pretty much ready to rock straight off the shop floor, although wearing around the house or to and from work is always a good idea before leaving on a major expedition.

In short, the golden rule is to buy what fits, and a model that suits your main use. In terms of brands, at the more robust end of the spectrum La Sportiva, Scarpa, Mammut, Lowa and Aku all build boots that will shame a tank, while at the lighter, summery end Teva, Keen and Salomon bring considerable expertise to the table.

The best hiking boots you can buy right now

Best hiking boots 2018: Scarpa Manta Pro GTX

1. Scarpa Manta Pro GTX

The best hiking boots overall

Specifications
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Pentax Precision XT
Waterproof Technology: Gore-tex
Height: Boot Cut
Weight: 1640g
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Gold standard mountain boot+Superb for long distance hiking

The latest iteration of the genuine classic Scarpa Manta boot, the Scarpa Manta Pro is arguably the best hiking boot for four-season use on the market. It has been the benchmark four-season UK hiking boot for many years, so if you’re planning a walk involving any of the UK’s mountain terrain, these should be top of your list. 

Fully crampon compatible (rated B2), this newest iteration brings improved impact absorption via a TPU crampon plate and PU shock absorbing insert, plus enhanced ankle support from Autofit Collar and Speed Lacing. 

In addition, they offer improved distance walking comfort thanks to more progressive flex in the Pro-Fibre XT 20 midsole. In short, these are the hiking boots you need for when the going gets a little tougher.

Best hiking boots 2018: La Sportiva Stream GTX

2. La Sportiva Stream GTX

The best hiking boots for mountain expeditions

Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Extreme breathability +Very comfortable

A technology-laden, fast and light hiking boot for those sun-soaked European breaks, the La Sportiva Stream GTX won’t weigh you down or break the bank. Designed to be highly breathable with a mesh outer yet waterproof with a Gore-tex inner, the Stream is for hiking fast and light in good conditions.

That fast and light ethos is taken to great lengths, with La Sportiva even incorporating aeration channels into the midsole to augment the breathable upper, this boot is all about keeping your toes comfortable in challenging conditions. 

There’s a Vibram sole for grip, and stability control systems baked in, so the total package is more than capable of dealing with rough stuff in a hurry.  

Best hiking boots 2018: Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

3. Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

Freshly updated version of the Land Rover Discovery of hiking boots

Specifications
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather & Synthetic
Sole Type: ContraGrip
Waterproof Technology: Gore-tex
Height: High Boot Cut
Weight: 1280g
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Good traction

France's Salomon is the Land Rover of premium quality yomping footwear, and the high-cut Quest 4D GTX has a fantastic set of features, making them ideal for backpackers and walkers of all kinds. 

What you get with the 3rd incarnation of the Gore-tex version of the Quest 4D is superb ankle support and gravity-defying traction, with a ContraGrip rubber sole that laughs in the face of mud and snow. 

The outer is sturdy as hell, though breathable, but the Quest 4D GTX is also surprisingly comfortable, thanks to a range of tricks gleaned from the best modern sneakers. Though designed specifically for weight-carrying backpackers, the Quest 4D 3 GTX is a cracking all-round shoe.

Best hiking boots 2018: Teva Arrowood Riva Mid

4. Teva Arrowood Riva Mid

The best hiking boots for old school looks

Reasons to buy
+Impressive performance+Waterproof outer+Cool retro feel
Reasons to avoid
-Toe cavity can feel a little stiff

An updated take on the classic walking boot, the Teva Arrowood is a surprise entrant here, and boasting a highly robust full-grain leather upper and Vibram soles, this is the 4x4 of walking boots. 

Less visible is the eVent membrane inside the upper, a highly breathable but waterproof layer that’ll keep water out but allow sweat out, and nylon shanks to stabilise your feet on rough ground and add stiffness on more challenging terrain. EVA midsoles and polyurethane footbeds round out the package. 

Best hiking boots 2018: Tecnica Forge

5. Tecnica Forge

The Rolls-Royce of hiking boots

Specifications
Upper Material: 1.8mm Nubuk leather with stretch fabric base
Sole Type: Vibram Forge Megagrip
Waterproof Technology: Gore-tex
Height: High Boot Cut
Weight: 595g per boot
Reasons to buy
+Bespoke, customisable fit+Rolls-Royce comfort+Looks great

The Tecnica Forge brings a little something special to the usual footwear mix - and won a coveted outdoor award for it. In short, the Tecnica Forge is a solid enough 3-season walking boot, but with ski-boot technology in the sole and heel area that is thermo-formed to your feet using heaters and huge inflatable bags. 

The result of that performance art is well worth the effort, being moulded precisely to your feet there are fewer hotspots than a comparable walking boot, and with a deeper heel pocket than normal there's little heel lift either. 

A wrap-around overlap cuff instead of traditional tongue also minimises potential chafing. Blister free walking with no breaking in faffery is here - and very welcome it is too. 

Best hiking boots 2018: Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi

6. Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi

The best hiking boots for faster trekking

Reasons to buy
+Huge grip+Comfortable from toe to heel
Reasons to avoid
-The style will put off some

An all new model, the Hoka One One Tor brings six years of running heritage to the hiking world in a highly technical package. Likely to be popular with the speedier end of the hiking community (Hoka One One athletes are regulars at the UTMB mountain ultramarathon), these are serious boots. 

Outsoles of Vibram MegaGrip with 5mm lugs are a statement of intent, while the company's Meta-Rocker geometry and midsole blend of EVA and RMAT material should provide underfoot comfort in spades. 

Best hiking boots 2018: Mammut Ayako High GTX

7. Mammut Ayako High GTX

Take on the mountain with these superb hiking boots

Reasons to buy
+Padded ankle support+Impressive grip
Reasons to avoid
-Overkill for walking the dog

Very much at the technical end of the spectrum, the Ayako High GTX is designed to perform brilliantly as a summer mountain/scrambling/via ferrata boot, but those attributes make for an excellent hiking boot too. 

Protective of the ankle and stiff enough for mountain travel, but prehensile enough to feel and grip rock and scree, these are the pros choice. 

Mammut’s ‘three zone lacing’ pulls the heel into the rear of the boot, minimising the dreaded heel lift, as well as giving the toes room to breathe. 

Memory foam on the high cut ankle makes for a snug fit, while the ‘climbing zone’ on the sole of the toe provides more grip where you need it most.

Best hiking boots 2018: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot

8. Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot

Best leather hiking boot for hiking

Specifications
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof Technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Mid Boot Cut
Weight: 1110g
Reasons to buy
+Ridiculously comfy+Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Not so good on rocky terrain

If you’re going on a long walk, comfort is, of course, a big concern. The Salomon boots and shoes above are hardly uncomfortable of course, but the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot really pushes the boat out when it comes to keeping you hygge

The boot is incredibly soft with plenty of movement in the toes, but the leather outer is both striking in appearance and long-lasting in nature, but doesn’t take too long to break in

Although it's not ideal for rough and rocky terrain, the Renegade GTX is a great choice for clocking up miles across hills and dales.  

Best hiking boots 2018: Keen Galleo Mid Boot

9. Keen Galleo Mid Boot

A great hiking boot for more mountainous terrain

Specifications
Best for: Rough Hill Walking
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Dual Compound Rubber
Waterproof Technology: Keen Dry
Height: Mid Boot Cut
Weight: 629g
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Cushion protection
Reasons to avoid
-Come up small 

If you are a keen hill climber, then the Keen Galleo (figaro, magnifico!), will serve you well. Its PU heel cushion and EVA foam foot bed make them good for comfort and shock-absorbing when going uphill; and the rubber toe protects the feet when walking downhill. 

If some of the classic Gore-Tex and Vibram soled boots are slightly out of your price range, this could be the best men’s hiking boot alternative for you, as the sole and waterproofing technologies are designed in-house by Keen, helping to shave a few quid off the price.

Best hiking boots 2018: AKU Alterra GTX

10. AKU Alterra GTX

Best boot for more extreme conditions

Specifications
Upper Material: Suede and Fabric
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof Technology: Gore-Tex
Height: High Boot Cut
Weight: 1340g
Reasons to buy
+Snug fit+Lashings of lovely tech
Reasons to avoid
-May be overkill for most 'average' walkers

AKU's much-vaunted new Elica Natural Stride System comes in a new Alterra GTX boot and helps to disperse the pressure on your feet as you hike, so you don’t get achy points – such as heels and the balls of your feet – meaning you can walk in comfort for longer. 

An insole board and tread faithfully follow the anatomical shape of the sole of the foot and adapt to it for a natural heel and forefoot inclination, reducing impact and strain. 

The boot is designed for longer treks on more demanding terrain and a sock fit only adds to the comfort levels. These are also super rugged.

The final word:

As with all types of outdoor gear, you get what you pay for. The Scarpa Manta Pro GTX takes our best hiking boots crown because you can wear them through all four seasons, and they offer a superb fit. Get past the initial outlay, and look after them properly –  clean off muck and re-waterproof them as directed – and they will last you years. 

For a budget step into the world of hiking boots, check out the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX. They're regularly on sale for a good price, and will see you comfortably through a range of trekking scenarios.

If you're looking for something not quite as extreme as a hiking boot, check out T3's selection of the best walking shoes. Walking shoes are lighter and more comfortable than boots, but don't provide as much support.

About the author...

Mark Mayne is an outdoors journalist who specialises in camping, hiking and diving.